In the latter part of 2010 the Department of Justice made many changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). One set of changes to 28 C.F.R. Part 35 was with service animal regulations, and the modifications became effective on March 15, 2011. Specifically, the definition of what qualifies as a service animal has been narrowed to now read:
Service animal means any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing non-violent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, alerting individuals to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, and helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors. The crime deterrent effects of an animal’s presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition. (§ 35.104 Definitions)
This means that people can no longer claim that their pet iguana is a service animal or that Fido (who has been trained to jump through hoops but not to detect seizures) cannot accompany his owner everywhere she goes.
As with many laws, there is an exception, and that has to do with miniature horses.